Beavers in the Landscape An Evening with Dr Emily Fairfax

Organizer: Santa Barbara Permaculture Network
Posted by:margie

Santa Barbara Permaculture Network  Presents

Beavers in the Landscape


Climate, Fire, Drought, Who do you call? Beavers!

Ecosystem Restoration Heroes


An Evening with Dr. Emily Fairfax

Thursday, November 11, 2021

5-8pm,  FREE

Farmer & the Cook Restaurant / Outdoor Patio

(Wood-fired Pizza available)

339 W. El Roblar Dr, Meiners Oaks CA (near Ojai)


Beaver dams are gaining popularity as a low-tech, low-cost strategy to build climate resiliency at the landscape scale.  Emily Fairfax



Join Santa Barbara Permaculture Network for an evening with Dr. Emily Fairfax, PhD. as she shares her research focused on beaver, a keystone species, that until very recently was a vastly underrated ecosystem restoration hero.


Passionate about science from a young age, Dr. Fairfax was happy when nature and science came together with her interest in beavers.  As a geoscientist who studies ecohydrology of wetlands and riparian areas, it was a perfect academic and vocational match.


Beavers are native to North America (Castor canadensis), in populations topping 600 million before trappers in the 1800’s decimated their numbers almost to extinction.  They were responsible for a landscape most early settlers and farmers took for granted— deep soils built up over centuries— in wetlands they created.  These wetlands then and now function as natural sponges trapping silt and water, which are excellent carbon sinks.


With extended droughts and catastrophic fires plaguing California and the West in recent years, Dr. Fairfax began focusing her research on the impact of beaver on wildfires.  Squishy, wet landscapes simply don’t burn.  And where beaver are, with multiple dam and pond complexes, squishy land abounds.  These observations of the positive impact of beavers on wildfires prompted Dr. Fairfax to coin the phrase “Smokey the Beaver”.


Of course beavers and human settlements are often at odds.  But in communities like Martinez, CA, where a popular Beaver Festival takes place every year, they and others have demonstrated these conflicts can be managed with clever strategies, good for the beaver and the community.   And with these kind of beaver management strategies come interesting new jobs, especially good for our next young adult generation, many who yearn for positive livelihoods.  As a part of the evening event we will share the work of, Cooper Lienheart a recent engineering grad of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, who currently works as a SLO Beaver Brigade Restoration Specialist, and has decided to make beaver and wetland restoration his life work.


Dr. Emily Fairfax is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Science and Resource Management at California State University Channel Islands. Dr. Fairfax double majored in Chemistry and Physics as an undergraduate at Carleton College, later earning a PhD in Geological Sciences from the University of Colorado Boulder.  She uses a combination of remote sensing and field work to research how beaver activity can create drought and fire resistant patches in the landscape under a changing climate.


The event takes place on Thursday, November 11, 5-8pm, at the Farmer & the Cook Restaurant, outdoor patio, 339  W. El Roblar Dr, Meiners Oaks (near Ojai). Woodfired Pizza available for purchase.  For more info contact, 805-962-2571,


Hosted by Santa Barbara Permaculture Network

Co-sponsors: The Farmer & the Cook; San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, & Ojai Beaver Brigades



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